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Lior Nissim, PhD

Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Lior Nissim, PhD PhD

Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Lior Nissim, PhD
The Institute for Medical Research Israel-Canada
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
ICRF-CRI Immunotherapy Promise Grant Recipient

Dr. Lior Nissim, a new, young investigator, is the Head of the Synthetic Biology and Immunotherapy Laboratory at the Hebrew University/Hadassah Medical School. Since his mother died of cancer when he was three years old, he has made it his life’s mission to find a cure for cancer.

Synthetic biology is a rapidly-evolving field that combines biology and engineering to develop practical solutions for biomedicine. The Nissim lab is focused on applying a synthetic biology approach to enhance the safety and efficacy of current lung cancer immunotherapies. They aim to develop an artificial genetic circuit, encoded on a virus, that will identify lung cancer gene-expression signatures, and generate the production of immune-stimulatory proteins, selectively from within tumor cells. Thus, these cancer cells should function as ‘Trojan horses’ that initiate a potent and durable, anti-tumor immune response. Since the therapeutic proteins in this approach will be localized in the tumor, autoimmunity outside the tumor site should be minimized, thereby enabling the use of potent proteins which are too cytotoxic when delivered systemically, as in current immunotherapies. Thus, their approach could potentially become a safe and effective lung cancer treatment modality.

In the next two years, Dr. Nissim and his team hope to engineer genetic switches that are specifically activated in lung cancer cells. To enhance the targeting accuracy, they also aim to develop synthetic gene circuits that would activate the production of therapeutic output proteins, only when multiple switches are mutually activated. Finally, they will search for effective output protein combinations that should provoke durable, anti-tumor immune responses. The successful accomplishment of these goals should enable the Nissim team, in the future, to combine all three of the components optimized in the research (switches, circuits, and output protein combos) into a single entity encoded on a virus that they can then examine in animal models.

Dr. Nissim and his wife, Dr. Adina Binder-Nissim, live in Mevaseret-Zion, Israel. They have two young daughters in elementary school. When not in the laboratory, his hobbies are wave-surfing and cooking.

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